Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mixed feelings on potential Subway Super Bowl

Squawker Lisa, I have a confession to make.

As much as I try to suppress those memories, I do remember that the Mets were in the World Series more recently than 1986. And with next year the tenth anniversary of the Mets' return to the playoffs in 1999 after years of misery, maybe it's time to start looking back favorably on the 1999-2000 Mets. They made the playoffs twice, won three playoff series and got to the World Series. As of now, that's a much better record than the current crew.

But 2000 won't be celebrated at Citi Field (or whatever it ends up being called) anytime soon. Part of it is that I doubt many people are quite ready to celebrate the achievements of the likes of Mike Hampton, Armando Benitez and Steve Phillips. But the main reason is how the 2000 season ended.

There was no shame in losing to the two-time defending champs. Unfortunately, that team played across town. It was bad enough losing to the Yankees, but the Mets couldn't even have the spotlight to themselves in getting to the World Series in the first place.

As a long-suffering Jets fan, I'm very excited by the team's success this year. But why, after 40 years in the wilderness, does a potential Jet trip to the Super Bowl face the same drawbacks as the Mets' World Series trip in 2000?

Once again, the other team in town will likely be waiting. Once again, that other team will be defending champs. Once again, that other team will be favored by a sizable margin. And once again, that other team is the more popular team, and will have a chance to completely take over the local fan base.

Still, there are enough differences that I hope the Jets do make it, even if they must face the Giants. In 2000, the Mets were only 14 years removed from a title. The team seemed to have a good chance to make it back.

But the last time the Jets were in the Super Bowl, Lyndon Johnson's presidency was winding down. It's been so long that it doesn't matter if they are 18-point underdogs, I just want to see them get there. (Of course, the other time the Jets got there, they were 18-point underdogs against the Colts and that worked out pretty well.)

More importantly, there may not be a next year. The Jets are built to win now, with mostly older stars led by 39-year-old Brett Favre. Next year, there's a good chance Favre will retire again, and the Jets will have no quarterback and, if they got to the Super Bowl, no number one draft pick, either.

And losing to the Giants isn't like losing to the Yankees. I'm not a Giant fan, but I really admired last year's team and have nothing but respect for this year's bunch. Losing to the Giants would hurt a lot less than losing to the Patriots in the playoffs this year with Matt Cassel at quarterback.

Finally, it's just one game, with much more potential for an upset, as the 1968 Jets and 2007 Giants can attest. So while I still think the Jets have a lot of work just to get past the likes of the Colts, Steelers, Titans and the dreaded Patriots, maybe it won't be so bad to have to face the Giants at the end. Who knows, maybe the Jets could become the first team to beat one brother (Peyton) in the conference championship and another brother (Eli) in the Super Bowl.


Uncle Mike said...

Jon: In the event of a Subway Super Bowl, the Jets will have some advantages.

First of all, the anniversary. It's been 40 years since Broadway Joe Namath. Ask Brett Favre, he remembers. (No, he doesn't. He's "only 39.") And, since Namath and several key members of the 1968-69 Jets are still alive, they can be interviewed ad infinitum.

Second of all, the aforementioned Mr. Favre. Maybe you haven't noticed, but the media has a collective man-crush on him. Even Dan Marino, who got slobbered over far more than his ringless hand deserved, didn't get this much attention. Except for Namath, Johnny Unitas, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana, no quarterback has ever gotten the kind of favorable press that Favre has gotten. He'd get more than Eli, who, even with his performance in last season's Playoffs, will always be Peyton's Little Brother. (No, Peyton's never gotten the kind of kowtowing from the press that Favre has gotten. Close, sometimes, but not like Favre.) And let's not forget, Favre's last game in Green Bay was ruined in last year's NFC Championship Game by... the Giants. Old Number 4 might have revenge on his mind.

Third, the novelty. The Jets have gone without a title for so long that people have tried to make up "curses" about them. The Curse of Sonny Werblin has been postulated by Jerry Izenberg of the Star-Ledger, but it doesn't make sense, since Sonny was forced out as Jet part-owner before the Super Bowl season. There's the Jets Merger Curse: The Jets didn't win a Playoff game after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger until 1982-83; didn't finish first in their Division until 1998-99, and are just 0-2 in AFC Championship Games since. And no team since the merger has lost more games, not even the Lions, Cardinals and Buccaneers (who, to be fair, only started in 1976). And, of course, there are those who think that, in order to make his guarantee of victory in Super Bowl III come true, Namath made a deal with the Devil. He says he didn't, although he admits he played Shoeless Joe Hardy, who did, in a Broadway revival of the musical "Damn Yankees" in the 1980s. (But then, he also played the Tony Curtis role in a musical version of "Some Like It Hot," not the first time he wore pantyhose.) But the Giants have won 7 NFL Championships, including 4 in the pre-Super Bowl years, more than any team except the Packers (12) and Bears (9). The Jets are stuck on 1, so a Jet win would be a novelty.

Quite frankly, I don't see why the Giants would be overwhelmingly favored. True, they're the defending champions, but they had some big breaks along the way, including several injuries to the arch-rival Eagles, the Curse of Jessica Simpson in Dallas, and in Green Bay there were Favre's miscues. And even if the Giants are heavily favored in a potential Super Bowl XLIII match with the J-E-T-S-Jets-Jets-Jets, so what? As you pointed out, 40 years ago, the Colts were favored by 18. Would the Giants be favored by 18 points? Over Brett Favre? At a neutral site? And would it matter? I doubt it.

That doesn't mean the Jets would win, nor does it mean that either team is a lock to make it to the Super Bowl. But it does mean the Jets would have a fighting chance, just as the Giants did last year against the Cheatriots, and we know how that turned out: 18-1.

"Subway Super Bowl"... I'm confused: What line do we take to get to the Meadowlands? Oh yeah, the 321 bus on New Jersey Transit. Gate 205. I hate buses. We take the Subway to the New York baseball parks, and I'm so glad I can now take a train to get to the Devils' new arena, and I don't have to change at Port Authority, like we still have to do for football games, the Nets (at least for the next couple of years) and, for the truly adventurous, Red Bulls games until their Harrison stadium opens. It was especially bad when the Devils were playing the Rangers or Islanders. As John Mellencamp would've said if he hadn't grown up in a small town, I fight Port Authority, Port Authority always wins.

"The Expert" said...

I am one of those Yankee/Jet fans
I agree with you that Losing to the Jets will not be as bad as it was for The Met fans losing to the Yankees, I hope that both teams end up playing Home conference Championship games. Looking forward to a Monday Night Game in January at the Meadowlands
Asa far as the game goes if it happens Uncle Mike brings up alot of good points in his comments (Great Job Uncle Mike)
So maybe this can be your moment this year. Lets hope so.

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